People in India and throughout the world could potentially die within minutes from heat exposure if world leaders don’t confront global warming, according to a study published Wednesday.
Intense humidity resulting from climate change in and around India and the rest of Asia could potentially kill more than a third of the people in that region, a study published in the Journal Science Advances noted. Researchers considered humidity levels and the body’s ability to deal with those levels in coming to their conclusions.
“The most intense hazard from extreme future heat waves is concentrated around the densely populated agricultural regions of the Gangus and Indus river basins,” wrote former MIT research scientist Eun-Soon Im, who led the study. Other academics not associated with the study shared similar thoughts about the effect climate change could play on humidity levels.
“It is hard to imagine conditions that are too hot for people to survive for a more than a few minutes, but that is exactly what is being discussed in this paper,” said Stanford University climate scientist Chris Field, who did not participate in the research.
The study’s researchers used a system called the “wet-bulb temperature,” which is the air temperature taken when a wet towel is wrapped around a dry thermometer. It judges the humidity and the affect climate change can have on the human body.
So-called wet bulb temperatures rarely exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature level that is considered very hazardous. Researchers say humans can survive at 95 degrees Fahrenheit, but the chances of surviving temperatures above that decrease.
Most of the people who could be affected, the study notes, are poor farm workers in India and Pakistan, where air conditioners are not readily available. A similar study was published Wednesday that supposedly showed climate change was causing farmers in India to commit suicide.
An increase of 3 degrees Celsius in the country’s rural regions was associated with nearly 400 suicide deaths, a study from the University of California, Berkeley stated. All told, the research suggests that nearly 60,0000 suicides among farm workers during the past three decades could be chalked up to climate change.
Researchers also argued that rainfall upticks of as little as half an inch each year were associated with an about a 7 percent drop in the industry’s suicide rate. Suicide rates tumbled for the two years that followed the rainfall drop, according to researcher Tamma Carleton.
India, which receives nearly 70 percent of its energy from coal production, has become a flashpoint for many activists who believe that the Paris climate accord was the world’s best chance at reducing greenhouse gas levels.
Environmentalists and politicians have done everything within their power to entice the world’s most polluted country in to joining the Paris agreement on climate change, including providing several loans last year worth $1.5 billion from international financial institutions for rooftop solar power. India got another $750 million in rooftop solar loans from the World Bank.